The mere mentioning of the nouns obedience and submission naturally presupposes the existence of some instructions, rules and regulations of which compliance is needed. However, obedience is more related to the specific demands of a particular instruction or law (rules and regulations).
Obedience is thus related to the doing of or the refraining from a particular act or conduct. Submission on the other hand has more to do with yielding to a particular sanction (suffering) meted out for disobeying a particular instruction or law.
Thus while obedience demands conformity; submission demands surrendering. Submission then concerns disobedience conduct and the surrendering to its consequences. There is therefore some truth in a legal presumption that states that every person intends the natural consequences of that person’s action. Simply put, every person must bear in mind the consequences of any actions that person desires to execute, and must be ready to face those consequences if those actions are initiated or executed.
It is a great virtue to be an obedient or submissive person or both. Children are required to particularly obey their parents and all persons are also required to submit to authorities. However, these requirements have their exceptions. The exceptions have more to do with the nature of the person or authority in question, and the nature of instruction or law emanating from that person or authority.
For instance, while both our obedience and submission to God must be absolute in all matters; only our submission to human authorities must be absolute. This means that obedience to human authorities is a qualified one (relative). In other words, certain instructions or laws from human authorities can and should be disobeyed but the disobedient person must submit to any sanction that follows that person’s disobedience conduct.
Therefore, the need to obey every instruction from authorities or laws in a country has its limits. John Macathur wrote in his book Found God’s Will as follows: ‘You may ask, “Am I supposed to obey every law in the land?” Yes, every law. If you do not agree with them, that doesn’t change the matter. Obey them…But what if they tell you to do something that violates God’s clear revelation and command? Then do not obey them! That is the only exception”. This means that any persons can and indeed should disobey any instruction or law that either forbids them to do what they have been told by direct command from God or commands them to do what God forbids. God’s Word is therefore superior to any instruction or law. Therefore, any human instructions or laws that are inconsistent with the Word of God must be disobeyed.
However, we must yield to any sanction that is connected to disobeying any human instructions or laws. The Three Hebrew boys disobeyed King Nebuchadnezzar when he decreed that all persons in his kingdom should fall down and worship a gold image he had set up. The gold image that was set up denotes anything that exalts itself against the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus (God’s Word).
Nevertheless, the Three Hebrew boys yielded to the king’s command to cast them into a burning furnace, but God delivered them. God delivered them because they honoured authority despite their rightful disobedience. We can thus conclude that obedience to human authorities is relative but submission to them is absolute! This is so because we must always honour authority, be it divine or human. Submission always breeds blessings.
Richard Obeng Mensah, author of Persecutions are Promotions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog: www.richard-obeng-mensah.blogspot.com